San Francisco County
HOMER I. KEENEY, M. D.
Since 1922, Dr. Homer I. Keeney has been engaged in the practice of medicine in San Francisco, his offices now being at 291 Geary street, and during this period he has shown himself to be a most thoroughly trained, talented, and ethical physician, worthy of the large clientage which has come to him. He was born near Albany, Linn county, Oregon, May 5, 1876, son of the late Elias and Lucinda (Van Winkle) Keeney, and member of one of the most substantial and prominent families of that state.
The Keeneys are of Irish descent, and the first one of the family in America came to this country before the Revolutionary war, settled in New York, and later migrated to Tennessee, where Elias Keeney was born. When the latter was twelve years old, his parents moved to Pike county, Missouri, and there he grew to young manhood. In the early part of 1844, Elias Keeney and his older brother, John Keeney, listened to the tales of adventure and riches to be had in the Oregon country, and they became inspired with the ambition to join those hardy souls making the long trek across the plains and mountains. Wealth they hoped to find, and adventure they knew would be forthcoming. Equipped with an ox-team and covered wagon, the brothers started and after many months of weary travel, hardship, and danger, which tested the fibre of the most courageous of the group, they arrived at their destination, the new Oregon territory. The caravan train members, over whom John Keeney was the captain, all settled in what is now Linn county, took up government land, and during the first winter engaged in clearing the timber. During this season, they split five thousand rails which were used for fencing, thus enclosing two hundred acres of land. This was a winter of trouble. Their chief food was wild game and boiled wheat, and the small amount of corn they had was ground into Indian meal. Notwithstanding the rigors of frontier life, however, the Keeney brothers prospered, and at one time owned and cultivated a full section of land. The Indians at times became hostile to the white settlers, but with the aid of the government troops and the civilian military organization, of which John Keeney was the leader, the tribes were subdued and in due course of time became reasonably friendly. The Keeney brothers effected a number of treaties between the Indians and the federal government, and they were men of position and high repute. They carefully observed the treaty rights and became so popular among the Indians that the chiefs took their tribal difficulties to them for adjudication.
In 1848, the thrilling news of the California gold strikes was brought to them, and they again started on the trail for further adventure and wealth. When they and their companions reached California, they encamped on the banks of the Feather river. While there one of the men felled a large tree, which, in falling, crumbled an embankment, which revealed gold-bearing rock to the party. There they remained, making the spot their headquarters until the early spring of 1850, when they returned to their Oregon homestead, for the purpose of using the acquired gold-dust in improving the farm. The Keeney brothers decided that one of them should return to Missouri, to return with some new settlers and a high grade of live stock. They pitched a coin to determine which one should make the trip, and Elias Keeney was thus chosen. With two companions, five horses, and the gold-dust in his saddle-bags, the father of Dr. Keeney started, and after two weeks bade his companions return to Oregon, while he proceeded alone. Four months and one week later, after several narrow escapes from road agents, he arrived in Pike county, Missouri. This was in the spring of the year. He converted his gold-dust into money, and found that he had between seventeen and eighteen thousand dollars, a large fortune in those days and at that place. Naturally everyone wanted to join him on the return to Oregon, and he was forced to make a careful selection of those whom he wished to accompany him. The journey was made, and they reached their destination in the autumn of 1851, not without a misfortune, however, which occurred when they were only a few days’ distance from the end of the trail. They had safely brought their cattle over the Cascade mountains, when a severe hail-storm and deluge descended upon them. The cattle stampeded, many of them were captured by the Indians, and for years afterwards many of the animals could be seen running wild in the mountains. Elias Keeney lived in Linn county for the greater part of his life and constructed one of the finest homes in that county. Not a nail was employed in the building of the house. Every piece was mortised and made by hand. The section of land which he owned was formerly an Indian reservation, and many mounds were visible thereon. Elias Keeney died in the year 1910, when he had attained the venerable age of eighty-six. His wife, Lucinda (Van Winkle) Keeney, was born in Tennessee in a very early day. A cousin of Dr. Keeney, Homer Van Winkle, is now attorney-general of the state of Oregon. Elias Keeney and his wife became the parents of four sons and three daughters, of whom one daughter and two sons survive, namely: Mrs. Rhoda Bond of Seaside, Oregon; Dr. Keeney; and Roy Keeney, a resident of Bellingham, Washington.
After completing the studies offered by the public schools of Eugene, Oregon, Homer I. Keeney matriculated in the University of Oregon, from which institution he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1897. He received an honorary scholarship to the medical department of his alma mater, and later completed his professional training at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1901. While in the college, he was elected president of the Epsilon chapter of the Alpha Kappa fraternity, and was secretary of the W. W. Keene Surgical Society. He was one of six students out of a class of one hundred and eighty graduates who received appointments to the Jefferson Hospital. Dr. Keeney also served as interne in the old City & County Hospital of Philadelphia; the Red Bank Sanitarium in New Jersey; and the Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon. He has been a constant student of his profession, and has taken post-graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the Jefferson Medical College, and the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
In 1902 Dr. Keeney established himself in practice in Portland, Oregon, and there continued until 1918, at which time he enlisted in the United States Army for war service. He was assigned to the Thirteenth Infantry, then stationed in Palo Alto, California. Later, he was transferred to Camp Mills, Long Island, New York, where he was so unfortunate as to contact influenza, and was invalid until after the armistice was signed. He held the rank of captain, and upon his honorable discharge he was commissioned a major in the medical reserve corps of the United States Army. Dr. Keeney moved to San Francisco for the purpose of beginning the practice of his profession in 1922, and has been here continuously since. He is a member of the call staff of the Children’s Hospital of this city; the Sutter Hospital, likewise of San Francisco; and the Roos Hospital in Marin county, California. He has fully realized his boyhood ambitions to be a successful doctor, and this success has been secured solely through his own efforts through the years, backed by a natural talent.
In Portland, Oregon, October 18, 1910, Dr. Keeney was married to Lucinda P. Henry, who was born in San Francisco, and is a daughter of the late George and Katherine (McKenna) Henry, both of whom were representative of old families of this city. Dr. and Mrs. Keeney have two children: Jean Katherine, born in Portland, Oregon, May 11, 1913; and Homer Henry, born in Portland, June 6, 1917. The Keeney family resides in a beautiful home in Mill Valley, California, within a short distance of San Francisco, where the Doctor finds great diversion and pleasure in the raising of flowers and shrubs, and in entertaining his many friends. Fishing and hunting are also hobbies in his busy life.
Dr. Keeney is a thirty-second degree member of the Masonic fraternity, and belongs to Islam Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He holds membership in the Mill Valley Golf Club, and the Alumni Association of the University of Oregon, of which he was president in 1903-04. In politics, he is a republican, and he is a Protestant in his religious beliefs.
Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
Source: Byington, Lewis Francis, “History of San Francisco 3 Vols”, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1931. Vol. 2 Pages 196-203.
© 2007 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.